Carter with Moyal in Sderot
Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman
Mashaal. Waiting in Damascus
Photo: AP

Qassam rockets are a crime, says Carter

On backdrop of his forthcoming meeting with Hamas' Mashaal in Damascus, former US president visits rocket-stricken Israeli town. In earlier meeting with Meretz MK Beilin, he says will work to secure kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release

On the backdrop of his forthcoming controversial meeting with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Damascus, former US President Jimmy Carter visited the rocket-battered Israeli town of Sderot on Monday.


During the visit, Carter said that the rocket fire directed at the southern city was a crime and that he would work to secure a ceasefire.


The former president visited a number of sites in the city and met with the staff of the Sapir College, which recently sustained a fatal hit. During his visit to the local police station, Carter was presented with the remnants of hundreds of rockets fired at Sderot.


Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal took Carter to the observation post overlooking the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun and the Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashkelon. The guest showed an interest in the distances between Gaza and the nearby communities and in the warning time before rockets land in Israel.


Moyal told the former US president that the reality in the area was intolerable. "They target innocent civilians. There is no army here, no cannons, no missiles, no aircraft – only children, women and elderly people exposed to Hamas' terror," he said.

Carter examines Qassam remnants (Photo: Ze'ev Trachtman)


Earlier Monday, Carter met with Knesset Member Yossi Beilin (Meretz). The two discussed the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and the Qassam rockets fired from Gaza.


During the meeting, Carter said that a deal for Shalit's release was possible and said that he would raise the issue in his meeting with Hamas' Mashaal. Addressing the controversial meeting, the former president said that he would not refrain from meeting anyone as part of his efforts to solve international disputes.


On Sunday, Carter met with Gilad Shalit's father, Noam. "The fact that Carter is not considered pro-Israeli, as American tradition dictates, could make it easier for him to meet with certain officials and raise ideas that would be subject to distrust had they come from others' mouths," Shalit told Ynet.


President Shimon Peres also met with Carter on Sunday, and criticized his anti-Israeli comments over the past few years. During the difficult meeting, Peres thanked Carter for his contribution to the peace treaty signed between Israel and Egypt, but also said that Carter's comments and meetings had hurt Israel. He also condemned Carter's intention to meet with Mashaal in Damascus.


Amnon Meranda contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 04.14.08, 14:12
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